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West End Stadium lights up, Q2 Stadium lands Diageo deal

Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise FC Cincinnati has debuted its new stadium’s eye-catching lighting technology, while the North America arm of UK beverage giant Diageo will back what is claimed to be a unique hospitality offering at the new home of Austin FC.

FC Cincinnati will play its first game at West End Stadium on May 16 against Inter Miami, but fans were given an advance look at the lighting tech yesterday (Thursday). The 26,000-seat stadium uses a first-of-its-kind SACO v-stick video lighting technology.

A total of 513 vertical fins make up a wave-like external structure that encloses the venue. Each of these fins has been fitted with custom LED lighting, creating a glow effect during evening events. FC Cincinnati has claimed a “one-of-a-kind” lighting feature that uses the fins to create unique motion sequences that will be displayed on the stadium’s east-facing façade.

The 287 façade fins on this side of the stadium have been fitted with more than 14,000 feet of v-sticks. In total, the 700-foot motion lighting feature includes 2.7 miles of LED lights. “Our ambition to have the best soccer stadium in the US and Canada,” FC Cincinnati president Jeff Berding said ahead of the first light show, according to local broadcaster WCPO.

“We want the world to see Cincinnati as the best. The rest of the world — they know soccer. They’ve never seen anything like what we’re about to show you tonight. This speaks to the ambition of the club.”

FC Cincinnati’s ownership group has privately funded the $250m (£180.4m/€210.3m) construction cost of the stadium. A formal groundbreaking was held in December 2018, with the final design from Populous being unveiled in July 2019.

Meanwhile, Austin FC has agreed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Diageo North America, which is already the League’s exclusive spirits partner through its Captain Morgan brand. The deal with Austin FC, which in January agreed a stadium naming rights contract with financial services company Q2, will reinforce Captain Morgan’s presence in MLS.

The founding sponsorship agreement establishes Captain Morgan as an official partner of Austin FC and grants entitlement rights to the Q2 Stadium East Club hospitality area, which now becomes The Captain Morgan Club. The brand-new, state-of-the-art bar and club will provide East Club members with an exclusive food and beverage experience during Austin FC home matches and events hosted at Q2 Stadium.

The signature indoor-outdoor design of the Captain Morgan Club will produce what Austin FC claims will be one of the most distinctive hospitality destinations within sports and entertainment. The unique functionality of the Captain Morgan Club on Austin FC matchdays establishes a flexible service model that begins with exclusive access to members prior to and during the match before opening to all ticketed guests after the match concludes.

Andy Loughnane, president of Austin FC, said: “We know that Austinites have a fondness for indoor-outdoor gathering spaces, and we are proud to introduce The Captain Morgan Club as the official name for the East Club hospitality area at the stadium, which will offer an indoor-outdoor gathering space that is unique to MLS stadiums for members and non-members alike.”

Additionally, as the exclusive spirits partner of Q2 Stadium, Diageo North America will work closely with Captain Morgan and Austin FC throughout the duration of the partnership on a range of programming that will include community and consumer activities across Austin and Central Texas.

Austin FC joined MLS as the 27th club in January 2019. The team will officially begin play in the 100% privately financed, $260m, 20,500-capacity Q2 Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes on June 19.

Main Image: West End Stadium